Latest from the Laing O'Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology at the University of Cambridge

3 min read

Earlier this month, a team of civil engineering students studying at the Laing O'Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology, part of the University of Cambridge, successfully built a 13-metre bridge in just two and a half days.

The third-year students constructed the bridge as part of a learning module focused on sustainable offsite construction, aimed at cultivating a new generation of engineers proficient in construction practices and committed to sustainable and innovative solutions.

The module has been designed to equip students with crucial project management skills, while immersing them in modern digital construction technologies. It is also aimed at teaching the students the critical importance of scheduling, teamwork, financial control, health and safety, and the practical aspects of engineering theory.

The module design is the result of a collaboration between Laing O’Rourke, consulting engineers Ramboll, steel fabricators Severfield, and technology experts Trimble, giving students the opportunity to work with construction experts and gain hands-on experience.

Working with the team students designed a modular bridge using our digital bridge solution, a system that can save weeks off a construction programme, requires less resource, and produces a smaller carbon footprint. The design consisted of two precast abutments, a steel bridge deck and fibre reinforced polymer decking.

Once finalised the modular components were manufactured by Explore Manufacturing, at our manufacturing facility in Nottinghamshire, and transported to the university for the build to begin. Students assembled the various components ‘offsite’ on campus, then transported them to ‘site’ using a hired mobile crane. Final assembly took place near the Eddington campus.

They used reusable precast reinforced concrete, allowing a demountable and reusable structure in the interests of environmental and financial sustainability, allowing the module to be repeated year on year.

Sam Siddorn, Laing O’Rourke Principal Engineer, said:

“We have thoroughly enjoyed the last few months developing a learning module for the University of Cambridge, exposing their third-year students to realistic, hands-on construction experience.

“We have been able to demonstrate the future of construction and create a concept that the university can adapt each year, training the next generation of engineers.

“We are extremely proud of the students for their hard work and commitment to this project, they not only delivered a bridge, but they completed it on time and on budget. A fantastic achievement!”

You can read more about Laing O’Rourke’s digital bridge solution here.

With thanks to: Ramboll, Severfield, Hanson, Asset International for providing materials and assistance with the project.